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Mochi may be even more dangerous in 2021 due to coronavirus

30 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

New Year’s is a pretty laid-back time in Japan. Most people spend most of the first three days of January at home, starting the year off with a focus on relaxation and family…and, in some cases, choking to death.

Mochi rice cakes are a traditional new year’s food, because their extremely stretchy nature is thought to be symbolic of longevity. Ironically, though, every year a number of people in Japan have their lives come to an abrupt end when a piece of mochi gets clogged in their throat and they suffocate before they can get medical attention.

New Year’s mochi is often eaten as part of the soup called ozoni.

Mochi is an annual culinary threat, but health experts are warning that this year it has the potential to be even deadlier than usual. The reason is the coronavirus. The added danger comes from hospitals crowded with coronavirus-infected patients receiving treatment.

Time is of the essence in treating suffocation victims, but with hospital staff and infrastructure more taxed than usual, response times (from calling an ambulance to receiving in-hospital treatment) will likely be slower, experts warn. Considering that many mochi choking victims in January 2020 were already unconscious when they arrived at the hospital, additional delays could be fatal, and so even greater levels of caution when eating mochi are being called for as we head into 2021.

Mochi suffocation occurs most commonly among elderly people and young children, whose teeth and jaw/throat muscles may not be strong enough to sufficiently bite through, chew, and swallow the sticky foodstuff. Should such diners decide to eat mochi anyway, experts advise making sure their throat is moist prior to eating, cutting the mochi into small pieces, and concentrating on chewing thoroughly and swallowing carefully.

Sources: Japan Agricultural News via Otakomu, Asahi Shimbun Digital via Livedoor News via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan’s most dangerous New Year’s food causes death once again in Tokyo

-- Häagen-Dazs’ triple cherry blossom mochi ice cream promises Japan an early taste of spring

-- We try Japanese liquid nitrogen Kit Kats at the new Below Freezing Chocolatory in Tokyo

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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I've eaten my mochi in small bite pieces. Slurp down a large gooey sticky mochi at your own peril, don't care what age you are

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Q: Should one be careful whe eating mochi?

A: Mochiron.

18 ( +23 / -5 )

Should such diners decide to eat mochi anyway, experts advise making sure their throat is moist prior to eating, cutting the mochi into small pieces, and concentrating on chewing thoroughly and swallowing carefully.

LDP meeting: We must think of the beleaguered mochi manufacturers! A key part of the rural,rice-farming voting base. The obvious solution is : Go To Mochi!

Let's subsidize mochi prices and get Dentsu to make some posters about careful mochi eating.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Here is a little quiz:

What is the most important thing when making mochi?

Hint: Think だじゃれ or pun.

Answer to follow at 9 tonight.

Happy New Year JT readers.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

My First Word for 2021 - Mochi

And I am going to eat different flavors this year.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Mochi is an annual culinary threat, but health experts are warning that this year it has the potential to be even deadlier than usual. The reason is the coronavirus. The added danger comes from hospitals crowded with coronavirus-infected patients receiving treatment.

What an asinine assumption! MOCHI isnt the problem! People's stupidity is! Every year some elderly folks, who should not be eating mochi do it anyway, and choke to death because of their stubborn belief that they are immune from anything happening to them!

Dont blame the mochi, and the title of this article is just promoting unneeded hysteria! The title should read something like this!

People who shouldnt be eating Mochi may may face more than just choking to death in 2021 due to coronavirus

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Mochi, the most boring bland food of all. Hard to believe it is even a food. Best avoided in my experience.

5 ( +16 / -11 )

Challenge yourself with fugu instead. At least you may die too, but with having eaten something very exclusive and delicious in your last minutes. That’s not the case with mochi. lol

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Every single year. The problem isn’t any coronavirus, it’s a lack of basic common sense.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If only household members knew of the Heimlich maneuver. Then, instead of calling an ambulance, social distancing in the waiting room as they over-burden the hospital staff, they could save grandpa from an untimely death in the privacy of their own homes.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Mochi is horrible. We cut up mu MILs mochi into very tiny pieces this morning.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

We liked Mochi made our own but we haven’t ate it for more than 10 years. Too old.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Q: Should one be careful whe eating mochi?

A: Mochiron.

Ron: Hey Taro, are you eating something traditional there?

Taro: Mochi Ron

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Yubaru

What an asinine assumption! MOCHI isnt the problem! People's stupidity is! Every year some elderly folks, who should not be eating mochi do it anyway, and choke to death because of their stubborn belief that they are immune from anything happening to them!

They don't believe they are immune. Its a proud tradition for some that they have partook in since as long as they can remember. Traditions mean something to a lot of people.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Time is of the essence in treating suffocation victims, but with hospital staff and infrastructure more taxed than usual, response times (from calling an ambulance to receiving in-hospital treatment) will likely be slower, experts warn. 

You should quickly give first aid yourself in case of emergency. Use a hoover to pull out sticky mochi from the throat.

Choking mochi or other objects kill annually about 4,000 (larger than Japan's covid-death tolls). It's common and deadly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"We liked Mochi made our own but we haven’t ate it for more than 10 years. Too old."

Too old indeed! I would not eat 10-year-old Mochi, either...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is the most important thing when making mochi?

Chikaramochi

0 ( +0 / -0 )

According to TV Asahi in an online article published December 23, 2020, the Health Ministry reported more than 3500 choking deaths among those 65 and older for the year 2019. Of which 298 (or 11%) were attributed to mochi.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ate mine early and lived through it again this year.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Like Hanami and autumn leaf viewing, Covid is not going to stop people here from doing stupid things.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

paul14:

Mochi, the most boring bland food of all. Hard to believe it is even a food. Best avoided in my experience.

I have to agree. With all the delicious food out there in the world, why choose the blandest on such an important day of the year?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

They should make mochi illegal as it’s a potential killer. Easy answer don’t eat the thing and you won’t have to worry about dying

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

While considering New Year's foods, safe from Covid-19, don't forget kaki or persimmon,

https://japantoday.com/category/national/japanese-study-shows-that-persimmon-tannin-juice-may-render-coronavirus-harmless

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jtsnose: And whom, pres tel, paid for the study? I bet you'll find it's certain farmers' associations... like where kaki are grown. Trust me, if persimmons rendered the virus harmless the people who found that out would be getting the Nobel Prize already, but as we have it, no surprise... it's about as useful as all the other unique Japanese foods that have made the rate in Japan so low -- oh wait.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Keep the vacuum cleaner nearby whilst eating mochi...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And whom, pres tel, paid for the study?

*who, pray tell

If the group at Nara Medical University publish a paper related to the experiment they did on SARS-CoV-2, I assume they'll declare the funding source. Can't find anything yet though.

It appears the finding of the effectiveness of persimmon tannins against viruses is nothing new though. Another paper by a group from Hiroshima University in 2013 showed persimmon tannins had strong anti-viral efects on a range of viruses. That work was funded by Altan who have been selling sprays and soaps containing persimmon since at least 2010 judging by the clip I found on YouTube from NHK's asaichi program. I doubt the products are suitable for dipping your dango in though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mochi, the most boring bland food of all. Hard to believe it is even a food. Best avoided in my experience.

The only thing worse is konyaku imo--slabs of tastelessness slathered in gooey sauces.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am glad this article is printed. I remember last year. DONT CHOKE!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They don't believe they are immune.

I tell ya, take a look at plenty of the elderly here, the one's who fall off their roof in a typhoon, or from shoveling snow off their roof, or eating mochi and dying!

No one ever thinks, "Oh it's dangerous", they just do it or eat it, because they think they are immune from any problems, until they arent!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mochi is about the tradition rather than the food. It is said it started around 900BC when rice was introduced to Japan from SE Asia and it was used as an offerring to the gods, especially when seasons changed or to celebrate successful cultivation. Now it is still communal in some places where people gather around to pound the mochi (used to love to do it with the kids).

Had it yesterday in the soup but I like it toasted with shoyu on top....and yeah will have some this morning which we brought back from the in laws yesterday.

The usual large gathering did not occur this year and the only venture out was to take flowers to the graves of the ancestors. Was able to give the New Year aisatsu to my favorite relative on my wefe's side from a distance. He is 97 and still rides his bike to the market 3 times a week.....was sad we could not chat for a while...from afar.....yes he had his mochi too but he cuts it into small pieces (he introduced me to toasting it with shoyu on top)

I hope 2021 is better for all of us and the cow, ox, or bull will stomp out 2020 and bring us a happier and healthier year.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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